What is gabardine?
Gabardine is a durable and smooth twill-woven cloth, typically made of cotton. Most people have heard of the fabric gabardine but don't know anything about it. It is one of our favorite materials and it has an incredible history.
Gabardine was actually created by the founder of Burberry, Thomas Burberry, in the the late 1800s. Burberry wanted to create a versatile fabric blend that would hold up well to a lot of wear and tear.
Burberry drew his inspiration and the name for his new fabric from the 'gaberdina' of the Middle ages. 'Gabardina' were loose and long garments that were worn over the breeches and blouses.
In order to create his new material, Burberry came up with a tightly woven fabric that relied heavily on worsted wool. The weave of the worsted wool was relatively smooth on one side, and had a ribbed appearance on the other side.
The original fabric was worsted wool or worsted wool in combination with cotton, and was waterproofed using lanolin before weaving. It was tightly woven and water-repellent but more comfortable than rubberised fabrics.
Burberry clothing of gabardine was worn by polar explorers, including Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, in 1911 and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A jacket made of this material was worn by George Mallory on his ill-fated attempt on Mount Everest in 1924.